Chestnut Hill Local
Date: March 31, 2005
Byline: James Sturdivant
Editorial: Historically bad
There's so much wrong with the decision of the Springfield Township board of commissioners to oust preservationist and community volunteer Scott Kreilick from the chairmanship of the Black Horse Inn Advisory Committee (a move which, predictably, led to his resignation), it's difficult to know where to begin.
First, there's the underhanded manner in which it was done. Without consulting Kreilick, the board and township manager decided there was a conflict of interest arising from his stated desire to rent office space in the restored inn. They never asked him if he was willing to recuse himself from being a potential tenant in exchange for remaining chair of the committee.
It seems likely that Kreilick would have been willing to do so. Over the years, there are few in Springfield Township who have defended the inn as consistently: through attempts at demolition and relocation, through successive waves of public outcry over first one, then another developer's attempts to treat the inn as nothing more than an obstacle to Bethlehem Pike's inevitable march toward suburban blandness.
Does anyone on the board seriously believe that Kreilick's more than five years of involvement in preserving the inn had something to do with getting a sweet deal on some Bethlehem Pike office space?
What the board clearly wanted was a way to rid themselves of someone who insisted on quality restoration work. Someone who was unwilling to cut corners and risk losing potential donations by relying on contractors with no prior experience in historic preservation. They no longer wished to listen to someone who knows what he's talking about when it comes to the inn (he runs a business specializing in historic preservation), leaving the restoration committee without its undisputed expert in preservation issues. They no longer wished to consider the perspective of someone they saw as obstructing a process that, it seems very clear now, had been decided on even before the issue of who should fix the inn was raised with the advisory committee.
The issue is no longer whether Kreilick was right or wrong in his position (which, it should be remembered, was in line with the recommendations of an architectural firm hired by the township) or whether there was room for compromise. It's about a naked attempt to nullify opposing viewpoints.
When volunteer Barbara Sherf said the board should have handled the situation in a more proper manner, board liaison Robert Gillies told her "Proper is subjective."
Though Gillies insisted that the board had not intended for Kreilick to resign but for him to remain on the committee, the hostile and secretive way in which they chose to address the situation bred contempt. The move was an insult to Kreilick, and to the committee, whom they appear to be treating like children. That can't speak well to their opinion of the public at large.